For the ranking, researchers at the personal finance site compared men and women in all 50 states across three key dimensions, including workplace environment; education and health and political empowerment. The dimensions were measured using 16 relevant metrics such as income disparity, educational-attainment disparity and disparity in share of lawmakers in government.
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New York was deemed the best state for women’s rights, ranking second in political empowerment, ninth in workplace environment and 12th in education and health.
Minnesota, Maine, Nevada and Hawaii rounded out the top five.
The most unequal state of all, according to WalletHub’s report, is Utah. The state ranked dead last in education and health and in the bottom 10 for both workplace environment and political empowerment.
Georgia ranked No. 40 — or 11th worst.
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Here’s more on how the state fared:
- Overall rank: 40
- Workplace environment: 14
- Education and health: 40
- Political empowerment: 44
But the low scores are a slight improvement from last year's No. 46 rank — and its 49th spot in 2016.
Earlier this year, WalletHub also ranked Georgia among the worst in America for working moms, thanks in part to its poor daycare systems, high gender pay gap and low female executive-to-male executive ratio.
Georgia laws do not require maternity leave pay and neither moms nor dads have extensive rights in the state.
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While moms may have the option to purchase short-term disability policies prior to conception, a way many women earn maternity leave pay, dads cannot file a short-term disability claim for parental leave.
At least 180 countries in the world have laws guaranteeing some form of paid maternity leave and only nine are without — six Pacific island nations, Papua New Guinea, Surinam and the United States.
In the U.S., four states—California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York—now offer paid leave funded through payroll taxes.
Georgia also ranked among WalletHub's worst states for women last year due to its share of women in poverty, high rate of women without health insurance, life expectancy of women and a below-average dropout rate for women. The state also tied for 46th for female unemployment, the AJC previously reported.
When it comes to the gender gap in health and survival, Rand W. Ressler, associate dean of the Georgia Southern University College of Business, believes it’s due to the fact that women bear children — and men don’t. “Many people in the US do not have access to quality healthcare due to cost,” he said in response to the WalletHub report. “An indicator of this is the fact that among industrialized nations, we have one of the worst infant mortality rates. This is linked to access to care.”
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Additionally, women are more prone to cancers like breast or cervical, which have high survival rates when detected early. But that involves prevention efforts and access to quality health care.
“In order to close the gender gap, a greater investment in women’s healthcare – focused on increasing access among the poor or uninsured population – is needed,” Ressler said.
Regarding the nation’s vast gender gap in political empowerment — the U.S. ranks 96th globally — American women “play like a minority, even though they are the majority,” still fear being called a feminist, tend to scrutinize female candidates more harshly than their male counterparts and still overwhelmingly believe leadership should be male, Gail Evans, lecturer in the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech said in response to the 2017 ranking.
To help close the gap, Evans suggested fighting such notions.
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Another Georgia expert cited last year by WalletHub, Roxanne Donovan, said the results further show how the gender gap across all dimensions is a result of “complex interwoven factors” including cultural norms and institutional practices that disproportionately benefit men over women.
Closing the gender gaps “requires closing the cultural gap between how men and women are viewed and valued,” Donovan, professor of psychology and interdisciplinary studies at Kennesaw State University, said.
In addition to establishing a national paid parental leave policy, Donovan called for mandated federal policies for a livable wage, guaranteed minimum income, universal health care and more to help alleviate the gaps.
But it’s not all bad news for women in Georgia.
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Of the 100 employers recognized in Forbes' first-ever "Best Employers for Women" list this year, four Georgia employers, including Gwinnett County Public Schools, were lauded for their efforts toward equalizing corporate cultures and empowering women.
Last year, two Georgia companies also ranked among the country's best for women, and Atlanta's Emory University has consistently been recognized as one of America's top colleges for women.
And, hey, if you're on the hunt for a "Ms. Independent," Atlanta's a great place to find working women with multiple academic degrees, according to Trulia.
Explore WalletHub's 2018 "Best & Worst States for Women's Equality" ranking.